This paper explores how multicultural learning environment can affect the experiences of international students and help them to equip intercultural communication skills. The World Maritime University (WMU) is a postgraduate United Nations' (UN) specialised university in MalmÃ¶, Sweden. Its main programme is a 14-month MSc in maritime affairs in which approximately 130 international mature students from over 45 different countries enroll every year. While sharing the common professional backgrounds within the maritime industry, students find this multicultural learning environment challenging yet interesting. To understand the multicultural learning impact on the students, the study was conducted by two qualitative methods: a focus group and observations. The participants emphasised the importance of shared spaces, such as a kitchen, in terms of deepening the mutual understanding. Inspirations from different cultures brought some students positive experiences in intercultural communication and eventually build a sense of 'family' among them. Such bonded relationships seem to be helpful to overcome various obstacles throughout the 14 months of their study. The paper concludes that the first couple of months are extremely important for international students to establish the foundation of their study. Positive experiences in intercultural communication tend to influence the proficiency of English as a common language as well as the levels of satisfaction and success in their academic lives. It appears that multicultural learning experience offered by WMU will help future maritime leaders to cultivate intercultural communication skills which can strengthen their confidence in advanced maritime technical knowledge and skills gained in the formal education.
Anne Pazaver, World Maritime University, Sweden
Momoko Kitada, World Maritime University, Sweden
Stream: Teaching and Learning
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